1. Wickham bubbles over
A few weeks after popping the champagne corks to celebrate Sunderland’s miraculous Premier League escape in 2014, now-Crystal Palace forward Connor Wickham partied hard with a £17,500, 15-litre gold bottle of Armand de Brignac bubbly in Marbella. “He didn’t really spray it everywhere,” an onlooker explained. “He and his mates actually drank it.” Unbelievable.
2. One man has an island
What does the footballer who has everything buy for his representative who also has everything? A Greek island, that’s what. In August, Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo, acting as best man for agent Jorge Mendes, purchased the unnamed Aegean retreat for a reported £10m.
“Cristiano really wanted to show Jorge how grateful he was for his guidance,” claimed a source. Wouldn’t a toaster or some towels have sufficed?
3. Gigi Becali: kind of a big deal
In 2005, Romanian newspapers claimed that Steaua Bucharest’s controversial owner Gigi Becali had commissioned a painting inspired by Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper. The piece of art work, for which Becali allegedly paid upwards of $50,000, supposedly portrayed him as Christ, with 11 of the club’s players and the coach as disciples.
Becali denied the claims, but as his financial affairs later unravelled, irate Steaua fans unfurled a banner suggesting Becali be “nailed to [his] f**king cross”. Ooo-er.
4. JT’s close shave
For almost a decade, John Terry has shelled out around £145,000 to club hairdresser Leo Bancroft (motto: ‘Live your life, love your hair’) to ensure Chelsea barnets were well groomed.
“JT has covered the costs for all first-team players and staff to have their hair cut by me,” said Leo in early 2015. Terry saved some cash when Jose Mourinho shaved his own head with Fernando Torres’s clippers back in 2013.
5. Private jets: expensive
Former Everton striker Daniel Amokachi found out the hard way that owning your own private plane doesn’t exactly do wonders for your bank account. “To fly over Nigeria and get clearance to land is money,” the Nigerian forward once moaned. “To take care of it is money. To leave it overnight at the airport is money.”
Amokachi flogged the jet as soon as he could when he finished playing, saying: “It just cost too much money.” OK, Daniel, we get it.
He's currently managing JS Hercules in Finland's second division. Brrr!
6. If we build it, they won’t come
There are white elephants, and then there’s Darlington’s former home – the 25,000-seat Reynolds Arena. “Fans won’t have long to wait until we are knocking on the door of the Premiership,” beamed former safe-cracker chairman George Reynolds when he bought the Third Division club in 1999.
Instead, the 2,000-strong core Quakers support inside the nine-tenths empty stadium watched disconsolately as their club imploded and former home Feethams crumbled. Reynolds bailed out, grumbling: “Those fans were never grateful.” Wonder why…
7. The Brooklyn lights
It’s one thing wanting your son to admire his parents, but quite another installing a £20,000 ceiling complete with fibre-optic stars and a mural depicting mum and dad as a fairytale prince and princess.
That’s what David and Victoria Beckham inflicted upon first-born Brooklyn at their Beckingham Palace pile in Hertfordshire. Still, if Beckham Jr. tired of it, he always had the option of running into the garden to play in the fake ancient ruins.
8. “Blanket, dahhhling?”
They’d just got a brand new 30,000-seat ground and heated dressing-room floors, so what better way for Russian Premier League side Terek Grozny to further demonstrate their upwardly mobile status than to leave designer rugs on the substitutes’ bench?
“It’s a bit more civilised than sipping vodka to keep warm on cold evenings,” slurred one Spartak Moscow replacement of the £700-a-pop Louis Vuitton blankets after a recent game.
9. Presidential sniping
In June 1996, Serbian warlord Arkan took over the running of FK Obilic, and over the next few years the Belgrade side began a controversial rise to supremacy. Amid allegations that Arkan’s henchmen were threatening officials and rivals, it was revealed that he paid around £1m for snipers to scan the crowd and ensure that he wasn’t assassinated at home games.
“Arkan must live,” insisted, er, Arkan, who was gunned down shortly before his 2000 trial for war crimes. Nice chap.
10. “D’ya wanna see my fish tank?”
Ex-Manchester City midfielder Stephen Ireland knew exactly what an interior refit of his £5m mansion needed in February 2010: a 6,000-litre aquarium. The £100,000 tank – plastic, not glass, presumably so that it wouldn’t crack if a ball flew off the adjacent custom-made ‘Ireland 9’ pool table – contained a host of exotic fish so large it was believed to be the biggest privately owned aquarium in Britain. “My house certainly has a ‘wow’ factor – everyone says so,” the Irishman explained. Yes, we can imagine that was exactly their reaction.
This feature originally appeared in the February 2016 issue of FourFourTwo. Subscribe!
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